YOU (South Africa)
Temba Bavuma on his Proteas captaincy
New limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma says he’s going to be fearless when seeking much-needed victories for the Proteas
HE’S no stranger to breaking new ground. He became the first black cricketer to score a Test century for South Africa in 2016 against England.
And although the batsman has only six One-Day International (ODI) caps to his name he’s ready for another first: being a black captain of a South African cricket team.
Temba Bavuma, who’s been appointed as the Proteas’ limited-overs captain, had a feeling he’d be selected but didn’t for a minute think it would happen so soon.
It’s a daunting prospect, he admits, but he’s taking things in his stride.
“You have the pressure of having to lead and manage your players in such a way that the team still wins,” Temba tells
YOU. “The biggest responsibility is managing your players, but at the same time also managing your own performance as a player.”
He faced his first test as skipper when he was ruled out of the upcoming T20I series against Pakistan. The 30-year-old batsman sustained a hamstring injury while batting in the third ODI, which SA lost against Pakistan.
The skipper was frustrated his “gradeone strain” prevented him from playing in the four T20Is.
“These are the things that happen in a sportsman’s career. I guess it’s just a part of the game,” he says.
“But sometimes, stepping away from the game isn’t a bad thing because it gives you time to reflect on your performance. It also gives you time to set your goals on the way forward.”
One of his goals is to bring the Proteas back to their winning ways. The cricket team has been plagued by a series of problems over the past few years.
Several star players are missing from the national squad due to contractual agreements with the Indian Premier League, there’s been a dearth of trophies, several complaints of coaching inexperience, poor form and batting woes.
“All sportsmen can tell you confidence is a big thing to become a high performer, so that’s something that I’m trying to work on,” Temba says.
Proteas coach Mark Boucher has faith Temba will be able to turn things around.
“He’s a nice guy,” Mark says. “It’s not going to be difficult to form relationships with players.”
TEMBA’S love for cricket can be traced to his roots in Langa township, next to the N2 highway in Cape Town, where he was raised.
“I grew up in a family that played a lot of sport, so I learnt my love for the game from them and it kind of
carried through as I got older,” he says.
He was two when he held a cricket bat for the first time and started practising under the watchful eye of his uncles.
When his parents, Vuyo, a former journalist who went into business, and his businesswoman mom, Phumza, moved to Johannesburg for work he played cricket for St David’s Marist Inanda College. While playing for St David’s, Temba also joined the Soweto Cricket Club.
The 1,6m-tall batsman made his firstclass debut for Gauteng at the age of 18 and three seasons later he was playing for the Lions, under the leadership of then-head coach Geoffrey Toyana. He quickly rose through the ranks.
Temba established himself as part of the Lions leadership group and was named vice captain in 2013-14. In 2014 he made his national debut when he was called up to the Test squad to play West Indies in December 2014.
“I enjoy the fact that this is a very competitive sport because I’ve been competitive from a young age. Playing with older guys and bigger guys, you always felt under pressure.”
Over the past year the right-handed batsman has established himself in the Proteas and will lead the country into the upcoming T20 World Cups at the end of the year and in 2022, as well as the 2023 World Cup.
He may have spent the bulk of his life playing cricket, but Temba knows how important it is to have downtime.
“Whenever I have the time I try to get in as many rounds of golf as I can,” he says.
He prefers to keep his personal life private and doesn’t want to discuss anything related to his family life.
He will say that he enjoys music, local House music in particular, and does a bit of deejaying to get his mind off the game.
“I also try to go to Cape Town to visit the family and see how everyone is doing.”
SPORT fans hope he’ll be the man to steer the national team to victory but there’s more to Temba than just cricket. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Temba Bavuma Foundation, which aims to help scholars from previously disadvantaged backgrounds through education and cricket.
“The foundation is a large part of what I do and what I stand for,” he says.
“In essence, it was set up to facilitate the emergence and development of young talent.”
The foundation identifies young talent and partners them with schools affiliated to the foundation.
But cricket, he says, isn’t prioritised over learning. “Sport and education go hand in hand, that’s my belief. It’s about trying to holistically empower these kids so they can break out of that poverty cycle and effectively also empower other people within their space.”
Temba tells us he’s aware of the “deeply rooted significance” behind his position as captain. He’s shouldering the responsibility with great pride.
“I can understand what it means to a lot of people in the country, looking at our history and the things they’ve had to overcome,” he says.
“I came in to play and as a young kid, like all others, I wanted to be the best. Considering our history as a country there’s the element of trying to be a beacon for other black kids who come from tough backgrounds,” he adds.
Have there been any comparisons to Siya Kolisi, the first black captain of the Springboks? Yes, Temba says, and it’s easy to see why.
“It’s only natural that people would compare the two. Siya has obviously done what all of us would want to do, which is to win a World Cup. That’s the biggest thing that people will judge me on,” he says.
Temba has a good relationship with the Springbok skipper and has reached out to Siya for advice on how to navigate his new role. “But at the same time, I also want to create my own legacy. I think that will obviously be a lot clearer as I go about my business.”
He wants to be a winning captain his team can count on, but more importantly Temba wants to leave a legacy. “For me, it’s ensuring I’ve added value. I’ve been able to inspire and really touch people’s lives.”
He’s certainly an inspiration but Temba isn’t oblivious to the elephant in the room – the fact the Proteas haven’t been able to bring home any silverware.
“We now have the opportunity to do something, and it’s not something I’m going to shy away from.
“I’m going to be bold about it and I’ll try my best to change that.”
‘THERE’S THE ELEMENT OF TRYING TO BE A BEACON FOR OTHER BLACK KIDS’